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Tony Jefferson talks contract decisions, Cardinals’ supposed chemistry issues

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) has his pass knocked away by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22) during the first half of a football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LISTEN: Tony Jefferson, Cardinals' safety

Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson can look with hindsight fondly.

When Arizona offered him a low tender worth $1.67 million for one year last offseason, it caught the undrafted safety out of Oklahoma by surprise. Nonetheless, he eventually took the offer, betting on a big 2016 season to earn himself a larger deal.

Still, that he wasn’t offered a bigger tender struck him and his representatives. That would have given him more money had he stayed, or the Cardinals a compensatory draft pick had he left. It would’ve been a sign he was wanted more.

“I wasn’t really upset. I know it’s a business. I was shocked,” he said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo show Tuesday. “We were kind of caught off guard by it, wasn’t really expecting it.”

With five games remaining in the season, Jefferson is second on Arizona’s team with 73 tackles. He has two passes defensed, two sacks plus two forced fumbles and recoveries.

In other words, he’s about to get paid.

“Worked out for both of us, actually,” he said of the contract decision-making before the year.

Jefferson said a strict diet helped him lose 12 pounds heading into the year where he’s arguably been the Cardinals’ most consistent defensive player. That decision has helped his production on the field, which in turn has set the safety up for a big payday heading into 2017, be it from the Cardinals or another team.

Would he like to return to the desert?

“Yeah, I do,” Jefferson told Burns and Gambo. “I told my family or whatever, if I can stay here, I’d love to stay here.”

Apparently, he holds no grudges. Jefferson, when asked if he’d take a hometown discount if it was in the “ballpark” of what he’s expecting to earn, said this:

“Maybe … I’m a five-hour drive away from home, San Diego. That’s always coming into consideration.”

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS

When Cardinals coach Bruce Arians questioned some of his players for stat-chasing after the 38-19 loss to the Falcons, Jefferson said he’d trust his leader’s judgment.

He, however, is not quick to point fingers.

“It’s hard to judge if somebody is being selfish or not, you know what I mean?” Jefferson said. “That’s hard to judge. That’s why I said, ‘B.A.’s been doing it a long time.’

“Obviously, we’re not the same Cardinals; playing the same ball we played last year and in the past,” the safety added.

Chemistry issues have been the first culprit to blame for the losing team. Yet, Jefferson said the locker room is fine.

On the field, he admitted, is where chemistry troubles have cropped up.

“I don’t know if it’s technically chemistry issues, but there has been some times during games, maybe on defense, we weren’t communicating as well and gave up a big play,” he said. “That wasn’t really happening last year. I think that’s where the chemistry issue is coming up. I think during some of the games we didn’t have great communication.”

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